5-27-06 - Mid-Western Wild Brook Trout in Wisconsin
Waters Fished: McCann Creek, Duncan Creek
Fish Caught: 5
Outing Date: 5-27-06
Air Temp: 80's
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: Appeared Normal
Water Color: McCann was clear, Duncan was clear but heavily stained
Fish Species: Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: Elk Hair Caddis, Pheasant Tail Nymph
Pattern Color: as per the original patterns.
It's the first of a 3-Day Memorial Day weekend. Our original plans to head to Iowa got scuttled and my workload was looking pretty big. It took a lot of arm twisting and some rod components not showing up before Saturday to convince me to still go somewhere and do some fishing.
Our ultimate destination was Renee's folk's place on Sugar Lake which is almost a 10 hour drive from Chicago (well, if you hit any Chicago Traffic, it can take as long as 12 hours...heck I'm writing this report on Monday night, stuck on 90 eastbound somewhere between Rockford and Chicago, and for the last 45 minutes we've moved 3 miles - I hate Chicagoland!)
We originally thought about leaving on Friday night, but my newest angling companion, Alice, puked twice that evening...this has been a recurring thing lately with some medication she's on and we can't figure out if she's just eating too fast or if it's the medication! Anyways, worry about our pup kept us in town until Saturday.
So this 10 hour drive started around noon; I wasn't going to drive through all of Wisconsin to spend the entire day in the car and not fish. We didn't really have any plan for the 3 days...fishing on Sugar Lake was the only thing I was 100% sure would happen.
So on the drive up I sat down and started flipping through Motoviloff's "Fly Fisher's Guide to Wisconsin" to see what we'd drive past. Somehow I decided that we'd try fishing two creeks that most folks from Chicago (who are more likely to frequent the SW WI Coulee region) have probably never heard of - McCann and Duncan Creeks.
Probably around 6:00 we pulled up at McCann Creek - the first spot we checked was hardly impressive...the best pool in sight from the bridge was traversed by barbed wire.
Moving along, the 2nd spot we stopped at was a pleasant surprise - one of the "Trout Stamp" Restoration Project areas you'll find if you spend time running around Wisconsin's numerous trout streams. While looking around, I noticed evidence of a massive fish kill in a pocket along the a bridge piling - it looks like at least 30-50 Crappie sitting dead on the bottom of the river. I didn't take this as a good sign, but going to the other side of the bridge I noticed a rise at the back tailout of the pool...it was at least worth an attempt.
Throwing an Elk Hair Caddis to the tailout, I quickly got my first strike but failed to keep it on for very long. Renee and Alice were standing opposite from where I was casting and suggested I try some casts under the bridge. The first good cast underneath produced a hit - whatever struck "looked" like a brook trout but it could've been a creek chub too..it didn't stay on long either.
Another rise occurred back at the tailout of the pool and I cast again. I stripped a bit and got a hit on the trailing Pheasant Tail Nymph, but again the fish got away.
I walked around and noticed some interesting looking water downstream...sure enough it was very "trouty" looking. I worked through the gentle bend without any hits and was about to call it a day for this spot when a sloppy fish rose just a bit further downstream. I added 20 feet to my cast, most of my line landing in the tall grass along shore. The flies hung in the current and enticed a fish to come up and eat!
Fish on...the fight didn't last long as more of the distance between me and the fish was dry land. There it was, a pretty fair sized brook trout from McCann Creek.
This wasn't "non-stop" action so I wanted to keep moving and see if we could find anything better. Moving upstream to the uppermost stream crossing on the map, we found nothing but scummy, stagnant water. Pretty "satisfied" with this scouting mission, it was time to focus on the neighboring Duncan Creek.
Our first stop at Duncan Creek was disappointing...it looked like a small flow of water flowing through grass, more like someone spilled something than an actual river. I'm sure there were some small pockets in the vicinity that could have held fish, but I was in a bit of a time crunch as we still had several hours of driving ahead of us.
The 2nd spot looked better...a small pool below the bridge looked likely. On closer investigation however it was shallow and nothing was sightable. Then again, the water was heavily stained with tannis...any brook trout present could easily blend right in.
Something lured me downstream so I took off through the muck. I spied water that looked nervous...no rise, but it just didn't look like it was flowing right.
I made 4 solid casts and landed 4 brookies back to back. Renee heard the commotion and came downstream. After my fourth, she suggested it was really time to move on...one more fish. I got greedy and shouted back "at least 2 more fish". Next cast landed in the grasses and snapped off my flies...I took it as a sign.
So we made our way back to the highway, stopping at one more spot on Duncan Creek and skipping at least 2 more access points...were there not other streams in the area to check out on future trips to Sugar Lake, I'd probably come back both of these the next chance I could get.